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After 'Chandni Bar' it is sunshine time

Atul Kulkarni.

IF YOU think why Atul Kulkarni, in all his films, be it "Chandni Bar", "Dum" or now "Satta", appears an intriguing, politically inclined man it has reasons. He has been "closely following politics" since his school days. Not only because he has been "differently interested in it" but also because he could be a politician if not an actor.

Take his statement as a possible hint for entering politics and he makes you think otherwise. "As a commoner you cannot escape from politics. Now everything is linked with it. Be it culture or agriculture. Moreover, I feel we should be sensible enough to know the leader who is leading us, who is taking decisions on our behalf, right?"

Atul, 33, is still basking under the glory of National Award for "Chandni Bar" and a powerful, parallel role opposite Vivek Oberoi in "Dum". "Chandni Bar" has definitely proved to be a milestone in his career. "It has changed the course of my career. I have been bestowed with titles of a definite good actor and its commercial success has changed the way people think these days. It is very stimulating," says the actor in New Delhi recently for the promotion of "Satta".

He can tell you exactly how people in small towns have grown educated about films. "Earlier, they would talk about stories and scenes, now they discuss in terms of shots, lights and focus if a film flops. I think television has educated them a lot. For a director such responses are very encouraging."

Ask this Sholapur man why he has been into theatres for 15 years, he will tell you that it is his first love and for him plays were never a stepping-stone to films. "It is because we don't have good playwrights. See Marathi commercial theatre is so successful as compared to Hindi."

This National School of Drama graduate has his own opinion about films made on non-resident Indians. "Such films always have a niche audience because they are made keeping only them in mind. That much audience is sufficient for the success of the film. It also brings back money spent in making it.

The truth is India has grown so wide in its taste in films that it is getting increasingly difficult for a director to please everyone."

Well, is he cut out for running around trees type roles? "Well, does my face allow, you tell me?" he retorts, laughing all the way.

A past lecturer in a Sholapur College for six years, he writes poems and short stories too. "I have written six poems and short stories so far," says this die-hard fan of Gulzar.

Though he says he is still not busy like celebrated actors so he can afford to take a Sunday off from work. But see the list of films he has on hand and decide. Mahesh Dattani's English film "Mango Souffle" that talks of sex life in metropolitan cities, "88 Antop Hills, a suspense thriller in which he plays a bank official charged with murder. Raj Kumar Santoshi's "Khaki", one English film by Madhu Ambit and Rakesh Mehra's "Rang De Basanti".

Good going! RANA A. SIDDIQUI

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